An impressive 12.5 gigawatts worth of new wind energy capacity was installed across the European Union in 2016, accounting for 51% of all new power installations, and bringing the region’s total wind energy capacity up to 153.7 GW.
These are the highlight figures from European wind energy trade body WindEurope’s annual Wind in power statistics report. Across the 28 European Union Member States, a total of 10.924 megawatts (MW) of onshore wind was installed, and 1,567 MW of offshore wind — as was reported in late January. Germany was the region’s leading installer, installing 44% of the region’s total. Meanwhile, five countries had record years — France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, and Lithuania.
EU market shares for new wind energy capacity installed during 2016. Total 12,490 MW
Germany leads the way with a total of 5,443 MW worth of installed wind energy, bringing its total wind energy capacity up to an impressive 50 GW. The nearest competitor is Spain, with 23.1 GW, followed by the UK with 14.5 GW and France with 12.1 GW.
Onshore wind energy accounted for the lion’s share of all new wind energy installed in 2016, while offshore wind energy took a dip on 2015’s numbers, 1.6 GW in 2016 compared to 3 GW in 2015.
Annual onshore and offshore wind installations in the EU
As a side note, wind energy accounted for 51% of all new power installations in 2016, helping renewable energy as a whole account for 86% of all new EU power plant installations, or 21.1 GW of a total of 24.5 GW.
Cumulative power capacity in the European Union 2005-2016
“Wind energy is now a mainstream and essential part of Europe’s electricity supply,” said Giles Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of WindEurope. “It is also a mature and significant industry in its own right, now providing 330,000 jobs and billions of euros of European exports.”
A combined investment in onshore and offshore wind reached a record €27.5 billion in 2016, with offshore wind investments individually growing 39% year-on-year to €18.2 billion, however onshore investments took a 29% nose-dive, down to only €9.3 billion. This is the first decrease onshore wind energy has experienced in the last five years.
However, while there are some good numbers in there, the news isn’t all good.
“With all the talk about the transition to low-carbon, things should be looking good long-term for the wind industry in Europe,” explained Giles Dickson. “But they’re not. Government policy on energy across Europe is less clear and ambitious than it was a few years ago. Only 7 out of 28 EU Member States have targets and policies in place for renewables beyond 2020. The transition from feed-in tariffs to auctions has been less smooth than we hoped. We still have dysfunctional electricity markets that are not fit for renewables. And we’re lacking long-term price signals to support investment.”
“We saw strong expansion in Germany in 2016 but growth remains uneven geographically. Over half the Member States invested nothing in wind energy last year. Policy is key, especially when we look at the longer term. The Member States also need to start defining in their National Energy and Climate Plans how they will deliver the transition at national level. The Clean Energy Package is the blueprint for this. The Council and the European Parliament need to start working seriously on the Commission’s proposals.”
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